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Full text of "My Country And My People"

THE    CHINESE    PEOPLE                  27

The infusion of new blood must explain to a large extent the
racial vigour that the Chinese people possess to-day. Historically,
this occurs with such striking regularity, at the interval of
every eight hundred years, as to lead one to suppose that
actually a periodic regeneration of the race was necessary, and
that it was the internal degeneration of the moral fibre of the
people that brought about these periodic upheavals, rather
than vice versa. Dr. J. S. Lee, in a striking paper on "The
Periodic Recurrence of Internecine Wars in China,"1 has
made a statistical study of these occurrences, which reveal an
exact parallelism in these cycles of peace and disorder which
"far exceeds the limit of probability" and is "perhaps too
exact to be expected from the proceedings of human affairs."

For the striking fact is that Chinese history can be con-
veniently divided into cycles of eight hundred years. Each
cycle begins with a short-lived and militarily strong dynasty,
which unified China after centuries of internal strife. Then
follow four or five hundred years of peace, with one change of
dynasty, succeeded by successive waves of wars, resulting soon
in the removal of the capital from the North to the South.
Then came secession and rivalry between North and South
with increasing intensity, followed by subjugation under a
foreign rule, which ended the cycle. History then repeats itself
and with the unification of China again under Chinese rule
there is a new bloom of culture.

The parallelism of events within each cycle unfolded itself
with an unreasonable mechanical exactness as to time and
sequence. Dr. Lee mentions, for instance, the undertaking of a
great engineering feat which was repeated with fatal regularity
and at the exact stage in each cycle, namely, immediately at
the beginning of a new bloom of culture: for the first cycle, the
building of the Great Wall under the Ch'in Dynasty and the
colossal palaces, the Ofangkung, which were soon subjected to
a conflagration lasting three months; for the second cycle, the
building of the Grand Canal under the Sid Emperor, who had
also magnificent palaces, noted for their grandeur and luxury;
and for the third cycle, the rebuilding of the Great Wall, in
which form it has survived to the present day, the opening up

1 The China Jownal of Science and Arts, March and April, 1931.